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February 1, 2013

Experts: Tuiasosopo “the voice”

In attempt to clarify if Ronaiah Tuiasosopo's altered voice matched that of the voicemails left to Manti Te'o while pretending to be the fictitious Lennay Kekua, a forensic audio team hired by CBS' Dr. Phil show confirmed the authenticity of Tuiasosopo's claims.

Tuiasosopo's voice was recorded behind a screen after Tuiasosopo said he couldn't duplicate the voice he used to deceive Te'o during "Kekua's relationship" with the Notre Dame football star. He was then sent to his home, where he could recreate the environment from which he delivered the messages.

After saying that the possibility of the match in voices was "one in 10 million," Kent Gibson, a forensic audio examiner and owner of Forensic Audio said: "Ronaiah can manipulate his voice without using a voice manipulation box or device. It is a true talent. I've never heard someone do this before."

The majority of the one-hour show focused on Tuiasosopo's sorrow for what he had done, the reasons for creating Lennay Kekua, and the support of his parents, who also took part in the interview with Dr. McGraw.

After learning of Ronaiah's molestation beginning at the age of 12, his father, Titus Tuiasosopo said: "It gives me and understanding about the choices he made."

Asked about his feelings toward Ronaiah and what he had done, his father said: "He is still my son and we love him unconditionally."

His mother said her first thought, when she heard of the hoax perpetrated by her son, was of the Te'o family.

"I was upset because I was thinking of his family, his parents," she said. "I couldn't believe my son was capable of doing something like that."

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo said he didn't tell his father of the molestation because he feared that it would "upset the apple cart" and cause his father to leave him.

So why did he create Lennay Kekua?

"It was just an escape from a lot of things I'd been through, and I was too embarrassed to share it, especially coming from a family in the football world and my dad being raised as a pastor," Tuiasosopo said. "It led me to want to escape my real life."

He said he created Lennay to escape the reality of being Ronaiah.

"I felt I couldn't live out as Ronaiah, and it has everything to do with child molestation and abuse," he said. "I was so dirty and filthy, and for me to come out and say this happened to me, I didn't have the strength."

Tuiasosopo cried frequently during the second segment of the interview with Dr. McGraw and offered several apologies to Te'o and his family.

"I pray the best and wish the best for Manti and his family," said Tuiasosopo with tears streaming down his face. "I wish harm on no one."

During another portion of the second installment of the interview, Tuiasosopo said: "I can't express how sorry I am towards Manti and his family, and everyone affected by this. I can't express how sorry I am to my family and just the ones who have been there for me no matter what, and everyone that carries my last name or has been affected by the media. I can't express how sorry I am to all of them.

"People say, 'Well, does he even have any feeling towards this?' The truth is I hurt every day for the decisions I made…I'm sure for Manti's family, for the Notre Dame program, but also for my family, and that's why I come here not trying to refute his story. I came here to own up to my involvement and what I have done.

"I'm not seeking everyone's forgiveness because the truth is, Dr. Phil, it doesn't matter how many good or bad things I do, not everyone will forgive you or like you. I can't make everyone happy, and I'm not trying to. But I came here and I stand with courage to say I'm very sorry for the horrible things that I'm well aware."

When Dr. McGraw gave Tuiasosopo an opportunity to close the two-day, two-hour broadcast with one final apology to Te'o, Tuiasosopo said: "I can never express how sorry I am for everything. I know I've put you through a lot. I'm just very sorry for everything, not just affecting you and hurting you, but hurting your family. I know the depth of the pain that I caused, and I pray that you can forgive me, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe you've already done it and maybe you never will. My deepest, deepest apologies, and God bless you all."

Dr. McGraw concluded the show with his opinion on Te'o's involvement in the hoax.

"As to Manti, I am convinced that (Te'o) at no time had any knowledge of this hoax or was any part of it in any way, and I know that he is going to go on to great and wonderful things himself."

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